Progressive Calendar 11.02.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2008 06:57:18 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    11.02.08

1. Mn science ed     11.02 9am
2. Stillwater vigil  11.02 1pm
3. Democracy/AM950   11.02 3pm
4. Oaxaca rebels     11.02 3:30pm
5. Oaxaca benefit    11.02 6pm

6. Oaxaca rebels     11.03 9am
7. MidEast peace     11.03 9:30am
8. Election online   11.03 7pm
9. uhcan-mn          11.03 7pm

10. Matt Gonzales - What do they have to do to lose your vote?
11. Ken Pentel    - Why I don't support the sales tax amendment

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From: August Berkshire <augustberkshire [at]>
Subject: Mn science ed 11.02 9am

Minnesota Atheists' "Atheists Talk" radio show.
Sunday, November 2, 2008, 9-10 a.m. Central Time

"The State of Science Education in Minnesota"

The Science Standards for the state of Minnesota for grades K-12 are
coming up for review by the Minnesota State Legislature.  The current
Science Standards support evolution and exclude creationism, and we want
to keep it that way. (Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has expressed
support for "intelligent design.")  Local scientists Scott Lanyon, Randy
Moore, and Sehoya Cotner join us for a discussion about "The State of
Science Education in Minnesota."

We welcome questions during the program at (952) 946-6205 or
radio [at]

"Atheists Talk" airs live on AM 950 KTNF in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
To stream live, go to Podcasts of past
shows are available at or through iTunes.
Program Notes are available at

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From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 11.02 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

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From: James Mayer <info [at]>
Subject: Democracy/AM950 11.02 3pm


Of the People this Sunday, November 2ND at 3 p.m. on AM 950 KTNF
(formerly Air America Minnesota) with Host James Mayer.
Call-in line: 952-946-6205

This Sunday we'll look at a grassroots groundswell that on November 4th
could bring us a landslide defeat of Republican corporatists, a return to
the basic purposes and provisions of our Constitution, and enforcement of
the rule of law.  Our guests are Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, U.S.
Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota and other candidates for state
office who respond to our invitation to call in. Join us this Sunday
afternoon at 3.

Threats to the health, strength and endurance of healthy democracy,
society and environment don't go away for the weekend.  Neither does the
bad news the corporate media establishment uses to make us feel alienated
from one another, shocked, depressed, or even helpless, and to distract us
from real priorities, realistic solutions and positive actions we can take
together.  But for a few weekend moments you can refresh and regenerate
your energy with James Mayer on Of the People, a place to go for good news
that the "news" corporations monopolizing our airwaves seldom let through:
people taking action together, on real solutions.

To listen to Of the People on AM 950 KTNF (formerly Air America
Minnesota), go to 950 on your AM radio dial, or Listen online:

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From: Joe Hill <maydaybookstore [at]>
Subject: Oaxaca rebels 11.02 3:30pm

Teaching Rebellion: Stories From the Grassroots Mobilization in Oaxaca
Featuring Gustavo Vilchis and Melissa Mundt

The tour aims to foster a dialog among activists from Oaxaca and the US
around organizing strategies and movement building utilizing the
experience of Oaxacan women's, youth, and neighborhood organizations to
build a powerful movement for democracy and accountability.

Sunday, November 2nd, 3:30 PM at Mayday Books- 301 Cedar Ave Minneapolis,
MN  55454
Questions? Call the Mayday at 612-333-4719 or check out

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From: redsquirrel [at]
Subject: Oaxaca benefit 11.02 6pm

Please join us on Sunday November 2nd (All Souls Day) in celebrating the
life of Marcella "Sali" Grace Eiler and picking up where she left off in
her support and solidarity work with the popular struggle of the people of
Oaxaca. Sali was a close friend to many and had a great effect on the
lives of people around her.  If you would like to know more about her
death and read some stories about how much she really did lighten up
peoples lives you can visit

The event will be at 6:00pm at the Bedlam Theatre 1501 S. 6th St. Mpls, MN
55454. This event will have three parts.

The First part will begin with presentations from the Teaching Rebellion
speaking tour. A nation wide book tour and photo exhibit, this tour aims
to foster dialogue among activists from Oaxaca and the U.S. around
organizing strategies and movement building utilizing the experience of
Oaxacan organizers who brought together labor, indigenous, women's, youth
and neighborhood organizations to build a powerful movement for democracy
and accountability. For more info on the tour please visit there web-site

This is also the time for people with other experiences in Oaxaca or in
supporting the ongoing struggles there to share there thoughts or their
own presentations.

The Second part of the evening will be the "brake". A dinner party with
musical entertainment. there will be several options for the main course
(vegan/vegetarian being at least one of them) with a desert afterwards. We
are suggesting a $10-15 donation per plate. The "brake" will give us a
chance to discuss tactics and share stories in a less formal environment.

The Third part is the memorial section of this event. There will be a
slide show with pictures of Sali and photos that she took while in Oaxaca.
We hope that also during this time people will feel comfortable enough to
share the stories they have about Sali. On the memorial web-site there are
many eloquently written stories about how people remember her. Some of
those stories will be printed out and brought to the event. We are
encouraging people to read these aloud in remembrance of Sali's life. Sali
was an incredibly strong and compassionate friend and activist. She would
want us to (in remembering her) strengthen our resolve in our struggles to
make this world a better place.

This event will be alcohol free and child friendly
If you have any further questions, please contact Alex Lundberg at
redsquirrel [at] or 612-825-1814

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From: Human Rights Center/Lauren Merritt <humanrts [at]>
Subject: Oaxaca rebels 11.03 9am

November 3, 2008 - TEACHING REBELLION: Stories from the grassroots
mobilization in Oaxaca. Time: 9:00 AM.
Location: University of Minnesota Law School, Room 385

The Teaching Rebellion speaking tour aims to foster dialogue among
activists from Oaxaca and the U.S. around organizing strategies and
movement building utilizing the experience of Oaxacan organizers, who
brought together labor, indigenous, women's, youth, and neighborhood
organizations to build a powerful movement for democracy and
accountability. Speaker Gustavo Vilchis will join us from Mexico,
accompanies by co-facilitators and translators Melissa Mundt and Chris
Thomas, to speak about the book, present art and photography from Oaxaca
and promote discussion and reflection on the former and current political
climate in Oaxaca and its relevance to everyone organizing in their own

More info on this event: humanrts [at] OR 612-626-0041
More info on the book tour: radiozapatista [at] OR

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From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: MidEast peace 11.03 9:30am

November 3: Minneapolis Branch American Association of University Women.
9:30 - 10:30 AM: Peace and Reconciliation in the Middle East through
Education with Dr. Nurith Zmora. 10:45 - 11:45 AM: The Art and Life of
Maria Sibylla Merian with Lisa Dickinson Michaux. Noon - 1:15 PM:
Luncheon. 1:15 - 2:15 PM: The Invisible People with Sheila Schunk Jensen.

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From: Timothy Erickson <tim [at]>
Subject: Election online 11.03 7pm

Nov. 3 - Following the Election Online (7:00-8:30)
         Rondo Community Outreach Library
         University & Dale, St. Paul

In this workshop, we'll look at some of the election day resources
that are available on the internet. Including sites where you can find
your polling place, preview what your ballot will look like, and track
election returns.

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From: Joel Albers <joel [at]>
Subject: uhcan-mn 11.03 7pm

The next UHCAN-MN organizing meeting is Monday, Nov 3, 7PM, Walker
Church, 3104 16th Ave S, Mpls.

(Walker Church is 1 block from Lake Street and Bloomington Ave).
(Note: regularly scheduled mtgs continue to be first Monday of each

Items: We need help w/ tabling, flyering for events listed
below,collecting personal stories, events you can think of, and
skills-share like graphic design, filming, etc
-Intros, Reportbacks,  organizing orientation for newcomers
-updates: networking w/ other groups post-RNC, UHCAN-MN's transition
from fiscal agency to non-profit; website's new look
-Our new Financial and Health Crisis Solutions flyer employer health
insurance open enrollments, esp for Nov 5th, 11th etc
-UHCAN-MN cholesterol screening/ed/outreach, Nov 9, 11:30AM to 1PM at
Health Fair
- UHCAN-MN's Historic Walking Tour of old Mpls hospital
district;sunday Nov 16,11AM
-Tabling at Mental Health Conference, 12:30PM,Nov 16th
-Prairie Health Companions Fund progress (formerly the MN Health Fund)
-other items ?

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From shove001 [at] Sun Nov  2 08:35:44 2008
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2008 08:33:29 -0600 (CST)
From: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
To: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
Subject: What Do They Have to Do to Lose Your Vote? The Trail of Broken
    Promises By MATT GONZALEZ  (fwd)

What Do They Have to Do to Lose Your Vote?
The Trail of Broken Promises
October 29, 2008

Watching the Democrats in the final weeks of the presidential election has
been a lesson in revisionist history. While they lament the terrible
crimes perpetrated against the American people by George Bush and vow to
keep fighting for our rights, they conveniently gloss over the fact that
they have no standing to make such claims. Indeed, the Democrats,
including Senator Barack Obama, have actually voted with President Bush's
agenda, making them complicit in his acts, not valiant opponents defending
our liberties.


Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said that if she became the speaker
of the House of Representatives she would end the war in Iraq. Remember
that? The Boston Globe noted, "Pelosi vows no 'blank check' on Iraq
funds". (1/8/07). In her own words: "If the president wants to add to this
mission, he is going to have to justify it. And this is new to him,
because up until now the Republican Congress has given him a blank check
with no oversight, no standards, no conditions". Rick Klein of the Globe
noted "Pelosi's comments mark the first suggestion by a Democratic
congressional leader that Congress could use its authority over the
nation's finances to hasten an end to the war. Her remarks point toward an
aggressive stance on Iraq from Congressional Democrats in their opening
days of control of the House and Senate".

Yet after she became the speaker of the House in Jan 2007, war
appropriations actually went up by $50 billion, with no strings attached
and no date for the withdrawal of troops. This year, 2008, they've gone up
by another $25 billion for a two-year total of $350 billion, with no end
in sight. So what happened to the promise of "no blank check?"


Sen. Harry Reid, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, has complained
that the Republicans have filibustered (a procedure used by the minority
party to delay voting on legislation) more times in the last two years
than in the entire history of the United States to explain why he can't
move forward a progressive agenda. First he said it was over 70 times,
then adjusted it by saying it was 65 times (Las Vegas Sun 3/6/08); yet
still the highest for any two-year period (the previous record was 57
filibusters) (Politico, 3/6/08; 4/15/08). But Sen. Reid's
frustration has proven to be a red-herring. Did you know that Reid lets
the Republicans filibuster telephonically, meaning that he doesn't require
that they physically present themselves on the floor of the Senate? Why is
he making it easy on them? Is this what an opposition party looks like?


Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party nominee for president, has a long
history of voting against the interest of the American people, and
specifically, the working class. Before entering the presidential contest,
he supported the Republican Class Action Reform Bill, which made it harder
for class-action lawsuits to be brought in the state courts. State courts
are exactly where consumer protection lawsuits and recent wage and hour
claims have succeeded in improving the lives of workers and helped them
obtain better wages and breaks during work hours have succeeded.

Progressive commentators at the time called it a thinly veiled
special-interest extravaganza. Journalist David Sirota noted "Opposed by
most major civil rights and consumer watchdog groups, this Big
Business-backed legislation was sold to the public as a way to stop
'frivolous' lawsuits. But everyone in Washington knew the bill's real
objective was to protect corporate abusers". (The Nation, 6/26/06). So why
did Obama vote for it?


Sen. Obama supported one of the worst attacks on civil liberties in recent
history, the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which extended an earlier
law granting law enforcement expanded powers to search telephone, e-mail,
and financial and medical records, in addition to granting the federal
government a host of other powers to combat so-called domestic terrorism.
After saying he would oppose it if elected to the U.S. Senate (NOW
questionnaire, 9/10/03), in July 2005, Obama voted for it.

But this wasn't enough. After entering the presidential race and running
on a "change" message, Obama vowed in February of 2008 to vote
against - and filibuster if necessary - the FISA bill amendment (Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act) that gave immunities to telecommunications
corporations that cooperated with the Bush administration's warrantless
surveillance program. This eavesdropping program clearly violated the
privacy of law-abiding Americans at the behest of the president, and made
the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover seem tame by comparison. Those voting in
favor of the bill didn't even first require full disclosure to see how
deep the illegal conduct extended and agreed to apply the law

Despite his promises to the contrary, and despite the vehement protests of
many of his supporters, when the FISA bill came to the Senate for a vote
this past July, Sen. Obama voted for it without explaining how this vote
fit in with his change message or reconciled with his repeated claims he
was going to protect the American people from repeated assaults on civil
liberties by President Bush. Here was his chance to lead and make good on
his promise, and what did he do?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the FISA bill "an
unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment
and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government
surveillance" (ACLU press release, 7/9/08). Caroline Fredrickson, Director
of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office called the bill "a
Constitutional nightmare" and noted "with one vote, Congress has
strengthened the executive branch, weakened the judiciary and rendered
itself irrelevant".

Obama even voted to stop debate on the bill so he could get back to the
campaign trail. How ironic is it that he was in a hurry to give more
speeches about change and hope but couldn't find the time or integrity to
convert these ideas into action?

On the eve of the vote MSNBC's Rachel Maddow noted "I'm betting that
[Pres. Bush's] wildest dreams did not include the prospect that Congress
- a Democratic-led Congress - would help him cover up his crimes. Yet
that is exactly what the US Senate is poised to do". (Countdown with Keith
Olbermann, 7/8/08).


As Sen. John McCain started to call for domestic drilling to ease our
dependence on foreign oil, rather than debate the scientific and economic
illogic of the position, Sen. Obama announced that he agreed with McCain.
Reversing a 25-year ban on off-shore oil drilling, Sen. Obama led his
party's reversal, offering no explanation for how this would ease oil
prices, particularly as experts noted that drilling would likely have an
almost imperceptible impact on oil prices in the near future.

As Lester Brown and Jonathan Dorn of the Earth Policy Institute noted in
"Drilling For Oil Is Not The Answer" (9/30/08) "The U.S. Department of
Energy projects that lifting the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) moratorium
[of the lower 48 states] would not increase production before 2017 and
that by 2030 production would only amount to 0.2 million barrels per
day - less than 1 percent of current consumption".

Furthermore "The U.S. Department of Energy projects that opening the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) would lower gasoline prices at the
pump by a mere 2 cents per gallon". Even if we combined the two regions in
question, it wouldn't amount to much of an impact on oil prices: "Lifting
the moratoria on drilling in ANWR and the OCS would reduce the price of a
gallon of gasoline by at most 6 cents - and this would not be seen for at
least another decade".

Proponents of drilling have also exaggerated the environmental safety of
current off-shore drilling and oil production technology in general. There
is widespread evidence that current drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is
already leading to serious pollution and spills. After reviewing data from
the National Response Center, the Houston Chronicle found there had been
595 oil spills across four state coastlines, totaling roughly 9 million
gallons spilled in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ("Spills
from hurricanes staining the coast" by Dina Cappiello, 11/13/05). So why
is Sen. Obama, who claims to care about the environment, now advocating
off-shore drilling?


In June of 2008, the conservative Supreme Court struck down the use of the
death penalty in cases of child rape (Kennedy v. Louisiana held that
states may not impose the death penalty for the commission of a crime that
did not result in the death of the victim), a decision that surprised even
death penalty opponents who hailed it as an important step toward full
abolition of the death penalty.  Sen. Obama's response? He quickly called
a press conference to denounce the decision. Obama stated that he agreed
with the extreme conservative minority, comprised of Chief Justice Roberts
and Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas. Despite the many known racial and
class inequities inherent in the death penalty, a practice abolished and
abhorred in most of the rest of the world, Obama celebrates that he has
always been a supporter of it.

On the campaign trail, Sen. Obama likes to highlight death penalty
legislation that he sponsored while a member of the Illinois legislature,
to show his commitment to reform. But let's be clear, he didn't work on
laws to address the disproportionate rate of death penalty convictions of
African-Americans, but rather a law to require videotaped interrogations
of death penalty suspects. Yes, something we can applaud, but something
many critics have noted merely greases the wheels of this injustice.

Most disquieting of all, as a state legislator, Obama voted "to expand the
list of death-eligible crimes" (Chicago Tribune, 5/2/07), despite
admitting in his own allegedly soul-searching memoir that the death
penalty "does little to deter crime". (The Audacity of Hope, 2006).


On foreign policy, Sen. Obama's approach is hawkish. He wants to deploy
more soldiers to Afghanistan, which will only further destabilize the
Afghan-Pakistani border. He simply ignores the historic reality that no
invading army has ever managed to successfully win a war in this area or
subjugate the Afghani people.

During its ill-fated 10-year war, between 1979 and 1989, the Soviet Union
deployed 620,000 soldiers to Afghanistan and sustained 470,000 casualties
(sick and wounded, including infectious diseases such as hepatitis and
typhoid fever).

Why does Obama want to ignore these facts and risk further destabilizing
the area and creating another Vietnam/Iraq occupation there?


With respect to Iraq, Sen. Obama has conceded the main argument of Sen.
McCain's campaign and said the so-called "surge" worked (despite
significant evidence and analysis to the contrary). And he has vowed to
keep soldiers in Iraq to fight counterterrorism. John Podesta, former
chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who now leads the Center for
American Progress, estimated this would take a 60,000 troop presence to

Moreover Obama "will not 'rule out' using private security companies like
Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq" according to Democracy Now! Correspondent
Jeremy Scahill. And Obama did not plan on signing on to legislation that
seeks to ban the use of such forces by the U.S. government by January
2009, according to one of his senior foreign policy advisors. (Democracy
Now! 2/28/08). (This is one promise Obama unfortunately has kept, refusing
to sign onto the Stop Outsourcing Security Act, introduced by Sen. Bernie
Sanders of Vermont).

In an interview with Amy Goodman, Sen. Obama stated his intention of
leaving 140,000 private contractors in Iraq because "we don't have the
troops to replace them". He also stated the need to keep an additional
"strike force in the region - in order to not only protect them, but also
potentially to protect their territorial integrity". Summarizing the
interview, Amy Goodman concluded that it sounded as if Obama "would leave
more than 100,000 troops, close to 200,000 in Iraq. 'Troops' meaning U.S.
soldiers and military contractors which some call mercenaries". (4/1/08).

Even concerning a possible timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq, Obama
has diminished his promises. He now is committing only to "reducing the
number of combat troops within 16 months," presumably to "bolster efforts
in Afghanistan so that we can capture and kill bin Laden and crush al
Qaeda". (Obama/McCain debate, 9/26/08).

What we know for certain, though, is when given a chance to commit to a
complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq, Obama said "no". When Tim Russert
asked him, during a debate in New Hampshire in September 2007, if he could
promise having American troops out of Iraq by 2013, he would not do so.


According to military policy analysts at the Arms Control Center, in their
report "U.S. Defense Spending, since 2001" military spending has risen
from $333 billion in 2001 to $696 in 2008 (including $189 billion for the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). It's expected to rise even more in 2009, to
$706 billion.

Despite this, Sen. Obama has joined Sen. McCain and called for increased
military spending. "I've said that we have to increase the size of our
military," Obama told ABC's This Week (9/7/08). The details of which he
has previously noted in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs:
"I strongly support the expansion of our ground forces by adding 65,000
soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines". ("Obama surrenders on military
spending" by Glen Ford, The Progressive, 1/15/08).


The current financial crisis has generated perhaps the most fascinating
political rhetoric of all.  Obama has blamed the Republicans for
deregulation and in doing so, his poll numbers have given him a healthy
lead as we approach the final days of the campaign. The only problem is
that the economic crisis is not just the fault of the Republicans. It is
the direct result of bipartisan bills enacted into law by a Democratic
president, Bill Clinton.

In 1999 Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This repealed
the last vestiges of an important Depression-era law, the Glass-Steagall
Act (1933), which prohibited banking, brokerage, and insurance companies
from merging together, thus compartmentalized the financial industry and
protected it from future collapses.

Equally significant in 2000, President Clinton signed the Commodity
Futures Modernization Act, which repealed 20-year-old agreements between
the Security and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading
Commission, so that financial institutions could sell credit derivatives
such as the now notorious "credit default swaps" without any oversight and
with no regulation. Two of its cosponsors included Democratic Senators Tom
Harkin of Iowa and Tim Johnson of South Dakota. The measure had such
bipartisan support that it was never even debated in the Senate and was
passed by unanimous consent.

This resulted in the repackaging of mortgages into securities and the
failure to regulate institutions that then over-leveraged themselves as
they sold credit derivatives to investors who wanted protection from risky
investments. This is what led to this financial crisis whose ramifications
we have only begun to understand.

Both Obama and McCain voted for the $700 billion taxpayer-funded bailout
despite the plea of 200 economists (including Nobel Prize winners) urging
them not to do so (Open Letter to Congress regarding Treasury bailout
plan, 9/24/08). Obama keeps emphasizing that the mess was the fault of
Republicans alone. But how is this argument credible when the law
responsible for the financial meltdown enjoyed unanimous support from both


It was quite emblematic of Sen. Obama that he has changed his position on
the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to suit whatever situation
he is in.  First, while running for the Senate in 2004, he said he
supported NAFTA and thought there should be more trade agreements like it.
(AP story 2/26/08). Then, while running against Hillary Clinton he blamed
her for NAFTA's impact on workers in the "rustbelt" states of Wisconsin
and Ohio.  But once he won the primary things changed. When asked if he
would truly invoke the six-month clause in NAFTA for unilateral
withdrawal, Obama showed his signature political reversal.

NAFTA created a trilateral trade bloc encompassing the United States,
Canada, and Mexico, which was meant to foster greater trade between its
members. It primarily lifted tariffs on goods shipped between the three
countries but has caused economic turmoil both among American and Mexican
labor, with unexpected loss of jobs and negative environmental impacts.

Nina Easton, a Washington editor for Fortune, noted in a June 18, 2008
article that "the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest
attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn't want to
unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA," something he had promised to
do when locked in a close primary race with Sen. Hillary Clinton. Asked
directly about whether he would move the U.S. out of the trade agreement,
Obama said "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and
amplified". Fortune magazine concluded that, despite once calling NAFTA
"devastating" and "a big mistake," Obama "was toning down his populist
rhetoric" and had no intention of following through with his anti-NAFTA
promises now that the primary battle was won.

In light of this evidence, can we believe any of the other commitments
he's made?


Those who think Sen. Obama will appoint good Supreme Court justices should
just take note of his long history of supporting some of the worst Bush
appointees to the federal bench, including Thomas Griffith (D.C. Cir.),
Susan Blake Neilson (6th Cir.), Milan Smith (9th Cir.), Sandra Segal Ikuta
(9th Cir.), and Kent Jordan (3rd Cir.). The Neilson vote was particularly
troubling as both senators from her own state "blue slipped" her for being
"too extreme".

And even when he does manage to muster the courage to vote against
conservative appointees, he does it in a lukewarm and perfunctory manner,
refusing to join Democratic Party filibuster efforts. This is deeply
troubling. He voted cloture (to end any voting delay) on Priscilla Owen
(5th Cir.) and Brett Kavanaugh (D.C. Cir.) both extremely conservative
jurists, thus ensuring they would be confirmed.


Obama's selection of Sen. Joe Biden as a running mate is particularly
troubling and does not bode well for the decisions Obama is likely to make
if elected president.  Obama has presented Biden as someone who never
forgot his roots, is a working class, regular guy.

The only problem with this characterization is Sen. Biden's voting record.
He was one of the main supporters of the Republican Bankruptcy Reform Bill
that Pres. Clinton vetoed twice, only to have it signed into law by Pres.
Bush in 2005, with Sen. Biden's ardent support.

Criticizing the Bankruptcy Reform Bill, Arianna Huffington noted that the
bill "makes it harder for average people to file for bankruptcy protection
[average annual income of Americans who file for bankruptcy is less than
$30K]; it makes it easier for landlords to evict a bankrupt tenant; it
endangers child-support payments by giving a wider array of creditors a
shot at post-bankruptcy income; it allows millionaires to shield an
unlimited amount of equity in homes and asset protection trusts; it makes
it more difficult for small businesses to reorganize while opening new
loopholes for the Enrons of the world; it allows creditors to provide
misleading information; and it does nothing to rein in lending abuses".
(, 3/05)

Jackson Williams noted, in "Joe Biden: No True Friend of Working Men and
Women" (Huffington Post, 10/27/08), that Biden "didn't just vote for it,
he helped carry the water on it. Some Democrats tried to soften the bill
with a series of amendments; for example, exempting military personnel at
war in Iraq. Biden joined the majority of his colleagues - the Republicans
and too many Democrats - in knocking down every possible change that was

Sen. Biden has built a reputation as someone who works tirelessly for
credit card companies, with some critics even referring to him as the
senator from Mastercard - rather than the senator from Delaware.

In addition, Biden voted for the War in Iraq and the Patriot Act, so it's
hard to understand how Sen. Biden is going to help bring about change in
the new administration.


Obama called Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez an enemy of the United States
and urged sanctions against him. (Interview with Jorge Ramos, El Mercurio,

He heaped praise on the first George Bush saying, "You know, one of the
things that I think George H.W. Bush doesn't get enough credit for was his
foreign policy team and the way that he helped negotiate the end of the
Cold War and prosecuted the Gulf War. That cost us $20 billion dollars.
That's all it cost. It was extremely successful. I think there were a lot
of very wise people". (Larry King Live 3/23/08).

And in a much-anticipated speech to America's pro-Israeli government
lobby, AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee), Obama towed
the typical pro-Israel line. He urged that Jerusalem would belong to
Israel, despite peace efforts currently underway which would allow the
holy city to be shared among both Israelis and Palestinians. He
unequivocally stated "Israel's security is sacrosanct". And "Jerusalem
will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided". (AIPAC
speech, 6/08).


Before you vote for someone with such a checkered voting record, it might
be worthwhile to make some demands on him, don't you think? Or at the very
least we should ask him to explain why he's capitulated so many times.

I'm sure Sen. Obama would find such questions uncomfortable. In fact, even
progressives find such inquiry bothersome: they are aware of Obama's
lamentable history of capitulation on votes that take away our civil
rights, but nevertheless cling to their wish that Obama will be something
other than what he has already proven himself to be.

But it's not likely that he will be a transformative leader. He's already
announced economic advisors whose ideas are at the heart of the economic
meltdown, like Austan Goolsbee, an aggressive free trader and subprime
loan advocate, and former Clinton advisors, David Cutler and Jeffrey
Liebman, supporters of market-oriented solutions to social welfare issues
such as the partial privatization of Social Security. ("Subprime Obama" by
Max Fraser, The Nation, 1/24/08).

He has foreign policy advisors who helped take us into war, like Colin
Powell, who in 2003 addressed the United Nations on behalf of the Bush
Administration, outlining the reasons the U.S. had to invade Iraq (he also
disturbingly, as a young Army Major, worked to suppress key evidence about
the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam).

But that's not all. Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman spoke with journalists
Allan Nairn and Kelley Beaucar Vlahos who discussed Obama's foreign policy
advisors (2/10/08). They noted that Obama proudly brought on to his team
old cold warrior and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski,
who has boasted of having created the whole Afghan Jihadi movement;
Anthony Lake, who was behind the U.S. invasion of Haiti during the Clinton
years; General Merrill McPeak, who delivered U.S. fighter planes to
Indonesia shortly after the Dili massacre in East Timor in 1991; and
Dennis Ross who has pushed to subordinate the rights of Palestinians to
the needs of the Israeli government.

What do you think the likelihood is that Obama will listen to us, once
we've voted for him, without making any demands on him?

As Robert Scheer, a noted columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, noted
on July 23, 2008, shortly after Obama voted for the FISA bill, "Barack
Obama is betraying his promise of change and is in danger of becoming just
another political hack". And Scheer made these remarks before Obama
decided to support off-shore drilling, denounce a Supreme Court death
penalty decision, and before he voted for the Wall Street bailout.


But we don't have to vote for either Senators Obama or McCain, do we?
Ralph Nader has a more impressive legislative record as an outsider than
do Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain combined. And he has a proven record of
fighting the culture of Washington. Just think of the Freedom of
Information Act, Clean Air, Clean Water, automotive safety, and the
Environmental Protection Agency. Yet despite these accomplishments, Obama
and McCain do not believe they should even have to debate him.

What they don't tell you is that the so-called independent Commission on
Presidential Debates is actually a private corporation run by former
leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties. The Commission, which
was formed in 1987, is currently led by Frank Fahrenkopf, a former head of
the Republican National Committee, and Paul Kirk, the former head of the
Democratic National Committee.  No wonder they won't debate Nader or
anyone else.

Of course they justify this by saying Nader isn't polling well enough to
include him in the debates. Yet, interestingly, both McCain and Obama were
losing their respective primary races until they were let into televised
debates. And there are well-known examples of how letting a candidate
debate "mainstream" candidates can lead to a different outcome. Jesse
Ventura won the governor's race in Minnesota in 1998 when he was allowed
to debate the Republican and Democratic Party candidates, going from 9 or
10 percent in the polls to ultimately winning the contest.

Ralph Nader polled at five percent and above at least four different times
this year in national polls, and he even reached 10 percent in one poll in
the state of Michigan (conducted by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA, 4/15/08). This
should have been sufficient to gain access to the presidential debates.
Ross Perot got in the debates in 1992 even though he was polling below 10
percent. Perot went on to win 19 percent of the vote, and his warnings
about NAFTA and deficit spending influenced Clinton policy and proved
prescient. Afterwards, the two parties retaliated by creating a 15%
threshold which ironically no candidate is likely to reach without being
included in televised debates.

The worse part of the so-called presidential debates as they are currently
produced is that two-party control ensures that the questions are not
sufficiently hard-hitting. Isn't it appalling that we saw three debates
between Obama and McCain at a time our country is suffering its worst
economic crisis, and no one asked these men "Why should Americans have any
confidence either of you is the best choice to tackle these problems given
that both of your political parties helped pass laws that made this crisis
possible - or even inevitable?"

They also like to say that voting for Nader is throwing your vote away.
The Democrats often cite the 2000 election to blame Nader for Bush's
victory. But they noticeably never mention the 1992 election, when Bill
Clinton won because Ross Perot "spoiled" the race for George Bush's
father, an incumbent president. By the way, Clinton got only 43 percent of
the vote in 1992 compared to 48 percent by Bush in 2000.

And they offer no explanation for why they haven't worked on election
reform since 2000. Imagine claiming your political party lost the
presidency because the "winner" was declared even though he hadn't won a
majority of the votes cast? Then imagine doing nothing to make sure it
wouldn't happen again. Isn't it odd that the Democrats haven't worked on
election reform in the past eight years?

They never will change the system because the way things are now, they can
be assured that they will be in office roughly half the time.  They also
count on people to accept their arguments that Nader and other third
parties aren't polling high enough to get your vote; that the real contest
is between just two candidates.

If all else fails, they argue that it's the most important election of
your lifetime. I'm 43 years old and I've heard this argument each time the
presidential race has come up.

If you accept these arguments, you are in effect rewarding the two parties
for not fixing how we do elections in this country.  You reward them for
creating the Commission on Debates. You guarantee that things will not
change. And you ensure that candidates that support single-payer health
care, decent wages and pensions for workers, controls on corporations and
a foreign policy based on achieving peace rather than driven by
self-interest, cannot ever be heard.

Nader wants a more humane and democratic society. He's seen that you can't
get anything done in Washington because senators like Obama and McCain
ignore what's good for Americans in pursuit of their own interests.  Sure
McCain talks like a maverick and Obama talks like a revolutionary, but
look closely and you will see repeated capitulations to the very entities
our government needs to get away from if we are to build a more democratic


Eugene Debs ran for president several times in the early 20th century. He
advocated the right of women to vote at a time when it was not popular to
do so and while other more successful politicians openly argued against
giving women the right to participate directly in elections.

The general attitude among men was exemplified by Elihu Root, a former
cabinet secretary to presidents McKinley and Roosevelt and winner of the
1912 Nobel Peace prize who said: "Suffrage would be a loss for women.  I
think so because suffrage implies not merely the casting of the ballot,
(.) but suffrage, if it means anything, means entering upon the field of
political life, and politics is modified war.  In politics there is a
struggle, strife, contention, bitterness, heart-burning, excitement,
agitation, everything which is adverse to the true character of woman.
Woman in strife becomes hard, harsh, unlovable, repulsive". (N.Y.
Constitutional Convention, 1894).

President Theodore Roosevelt, himself, said "Personally I believe in
woman's suffrage, but I am not an enthusiastic advocate of it, because I
do not regard it as a very important matter". (Letter to Dr. Lyman Abbott,
11/10/1908). And President Grover Cleveland said, "Sensible and
responsible women do not want to vote". (1905).

Despite these sentiments Debs advocated this right. Yet he never obtained
more than 6 percent of the vote. Let me ask you: Were the men who voted
with Debs throwing their vote away? If you had lived in that era, would
you have voted for him? Or would you have come up with an excuse for why
it wasn't important enough?


On the street when I am approached by an Obama/Biden volunteer or someone
who tells me they're voting for Obama, I usually ask "What about the FISA
vote?" And each time I hear in return "What's that?" Or if I say, "You
know he supports the death penalty," I usually hear in response, "No he

At what point will there be intellectual honesty about what is
happening? People are voting for Obama because they find him to be an
engaging public speaker and like his message regardless of his history of
being part of the very problem he professes to want to fix. Most people
don't want the actual facts to interfere with the desperate hope that he
is everything they want him to be.

Do you really want to vote for someone who has already voted to take away
your civil liberties because of some vague wish that he'll act differently
as president?  Obama himself, speaking of Sen. Hillary Clinton, made a
remark that could just as easily apply to him, and, unwittingly makes the
case for why no one should vote for him: "We can't afford a president
whose positions change with the politics of the moment. We need a
president who knows that being ready on day one means getting it right
from day one". (Salem, OR, 3/21/08).

If voting for war appropriations and taking away civil liberties was
bringing us closer to a more democratic and egalitarian society, well, I
would advocate it. But it isn't doing that.

What is your breaking point?  At what point do you decide that you've had

What do they have to do to lose your vote?

Matt Gonzalez is Ralph Nader's Vice-Presidential running mate on an
Independent ticket.

--------11 of 11--------

Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2008 14:45:21 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ken Pentel <kenpentel [at]>
Subject: My opinion on Legacy Act

Why I don't support the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment. Vote NO on

Just to buffer the statement that follows: I like a lot of the people in
the ecological-movement. Many of them are great thinkers, organizers,
builders, and shapers of culture.

The parts of the Legacy Amendment that I'm interested in has to do with
the Water. The hunting comes second and the Arts third.

This amendment is just a reflection of the utter failure of the
eco-movement to build leverage in to the political system. We/They are
left to grovel for crumbs. What; $90 million/yr for 25 years for water?
While planet killing people, their industries and corporation lay siege to
Minnesota. Bringing into the state $20, $40, $50, $60+ billion of planet
killing sprawl, poison, fertilizers, uranium, coal, oil, organo-chlorines,
toxic packaging, GMO's, solid waste and much more each year.

Seemingly, this was all to be settled with the Environmental Policy At of
1969, Clean Air Act of 1970, Clean Water Act of 1972, Endangered Species
Act of 1973 and the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act of 1973. Obviously
since the eco-movement went non profit or was absorbed into the corporate
fold they got neutralized. Instead of becoming fierce warriors for the the
earth, they became compliant and delusional when it came to literally
protecting our host. (Of course this is not an absolute. Many became self
reliant and did great things in balance with the earth.)

Then we got the lottery that was supposed to solved the problem. We
elected representatives who were supposedly reflecting the 60-70% of the
people who wanted a protected earth. No that didn't work. We let
representatives tell us over and over again that they were going to work
to make a better future for the kids. This was a lie. Now we are going to
put in the Constitution that 2/8th of 1% is going to help the earth?
(Funding by way of the State Constitution, look how that worked with the
1934 gas tax; we were born to become auto centered-sprawl-oil junkies.)

Everyone is conditioned to try and put the problems back in the bottle.
Low and lower expectations. And the dominant people who have put the
planet in such a perilous place are dead or still running the show. This
Amendment has nothing clear about accountability. Once again the carrot
without the stick.)

This is another confidence game, and the public is the mark. It is a ruse
that we are going to actually heal our relationship to the earth through
thsi Act. Do I want what many of the people who are working on the Legacy
Amendment want, of course. Do I think I have all that answers NO. But I
smell a con when I see one. All those good people with good intentions
whose instincts are right-on, are taking all that healing energy and
sending it into a system that is counter to their goals.

From what I understand the money will run through the same system that got
us in this ecological mess; the Legislature and the Governors Office. The
Xcel Energy's, 3M's, Monsanto's', Flint Hills Energy, Boise Cascade, Dow,
Waste Management Inc, Cargill's, etc. As well as all the banking interests
who finance them, and the Chamber of Commerce as the front, are still
integrated and orbiting the culture and government, making sure the
general lifestyle patterns we were born into, and depend on, don't change.
And the eco-movement is given just enough to keep them busy with
incremental change when the problems are exponential.

I read they may actually name the commission for the hunting and fishing
money after Bob Lessard. Well, that's a joke. In my opinion Lessard and
his ilk is one of the reasons we are having to clean-up this ecological

And for all the planet killers in the House and the Senate they can now
look to this amendment to rationalize more de-funding of policy that would
lead to healing our relationship to the Earth.

A sales tax is another way not hold the perpetrators of the ecological
crimes accountable to clean-up their mess. The poor and the weak have to
bail out the delusional "mighty and powerful" once again.  If these
eco-interests were really interested in the change they desire they should
end the lie and stop sending their supporters into a commercial
planet-killing political system. At least offer up candidates that are
consistent with the values they preach. Enforce laws that have already
passed (as I mentioned before), and stop being scared to strip the assets
and cage the perpetrators in proportion to their ecological crimes.

Wishing it were different,

Ken Pentel

A synopsis of what I said above:

The amount of money the 2/8th Legacy Amendment seeks ($180) is tiny in
comparison to the tens of billions of dollars eco-killing industries used
in deteriorating Minnesota/Earth each year.

This weak amendment should never even be on the radar. The laws were
passed 40 years ago to deal with this.

A sales tax picks on the poor and the weak instead of making the
perpetrators of these ecological crimes pay.

The money will funnel back to the same government structure that is
generally run by a tiny group of very wealthy people and their corporate

The eco-movement, which I have been part of and continue to lean on, has
proven once again how weak we/they are in the political scheme of things.

If the eco movement were serious they would offer candidates that reflect
there values instead endorsing the lie.

There is much more to say but I will leave it at this.

Ken Pentel

"For us to maintain our way of living, we must tell lies to each other and
especially to ourselves. The lies are necessary because, without them,
many deplorable acts would become impossibilities." Derrick Jensen

Ken Pentel Ecology Democracy Network P.O. Box 3872 Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 387-0601


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